On March 28, the Students’ Spring Pilgrimage to Jiba, cosponsored by the Students Association and the Students Advisory Committee, was held at the Home of the Parent under the theme “Let us pledge a turnout of 10,000 students for next year’s Students Rally in Jiba.” Some 5,000 high school, technical school, junior college, and university students participated in this annual convention, which was held in the North, East, and West Worship Halls this year due to the wet weather.
Honored by the presence of the Shinbashira and his wife, as well as the former Shinbashira, the convention started at 9:00 A.M. with a moment of prayer and the singing of the Yorozuyo. Opening remarks were then delivered by Tenrikyo Students Association Chairman Kazuhito Ueta, who told his fellow students: “We have come together today not by chance, but rather because we were drawn to Jiba during this pre-anniversary season. Let us listen attentively to the Shinbashira’s address and implement his advice, so that we can make progress in our spiritual growth during this season of the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama. Let us also share the joy we feel today with one another and make headway on the unending path of spiritual growth, while keeping the ‘mind like clear skies.'”
The Shinbashira then addressed the participants. After explaining the Divine Model of Oyasama and the day of origin of Oyasama’s anniversaries, he said, “This ‘three years, one thousand days’ season is a season for spiritual growth when we can show God the Parent and Oyasama our progress in spiritual growth through our constant efforts to respond to the parental love of Oyasama–who shortened Her term of physical life by 25 years out of a desire to hasten Her children’s spiritual growth–and to draw even a step closer to the intention of God the Parent.”
Furthermore, after quoting the passage from Instruction Two that reads, “Spiritual growth refers to the process of nearing the intention of the Parent,” he said: “‘The intention of the Parent’ refers to the Joyous Life, and the means taught by Oyasama to realize that intention is the Service. What is vital in the performance of the Service, however, is whether or not those who perform the Service are actually making efforts to implement the intention of God the Parent and near the parental heart of Oyasama–that is to say, our daily stance of faith is the question at issue. The completion of the Service is, therefore, deeply related to our individual efforts to make spiritual growth.”
He continued: “Some of you may be under the impression that performing the service and sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings are tasks entrusted only to head ministers and other ardent followers, and are thus irrelevant to you since you are still students. However, every person drawn to a church is indispensable to the further development of the church’s activities. The church should always have a lively atmosphere with many people visiting, and I want you to know that your youthful energy will help create such a joyous and bright atmosphere at the church.”
He also said: “Even if you are not confident in your ability to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings or engage in salvation work, you can still watch the church or look after small children, thereby assisting people at the church who are going out to do missionary work.”
He went on to say: “When you are young, it is natural to run into troubles and have worries, precisely because you are young and inexperienced, but you can grow as you learn through trial and error. The important thing is that, with each difficulty encountered, you should try to overcome it by giving serious thought to what way of thinking would be the closest to Oyasama’s thinking, rather than getting caught up in one particular way of thinking.”
The Shinbashira closed his address by saying: “I very much hope that all of you will proactively learn and implement the teachings and follow the path in a manner befitting the youth of the path so that you will be able to bring delight to Oyasama on the occasion of next year’s 120th Anniversary by showing Her the progress you have made in your spiritual growth.”
This was followed by the announcement of the theme for the Oyasama 120th Anniversary Students Rally in Jiba, which will be held on March 28 next year: “Let us convey the intention of the Parent to all friends throughout the world.”
Following this, four association members gave speeches regarding the joy of faith and friendship. Motokazu Kono, who had been appointed to serve as chairman of the association starting on April 1, then addressed the members to express his commitment to fulfilling his duties as chairman.
At the end of the convention, the participants sang the “Oyasama 120th Anniversary Song” and “Akari (Light),” the theme song for next year’s Students Rally in Jiba.
After the convention, the students participated in various programs organized by their directly supervised churches. That day, 513 students attended the Besseki lectures. Following Church Headquarters’ evening service, the “Spring Festival” was held on both sides of the South Gate, where the participants enjoyed food and beverages served at booths as well as various kinds of entertainment provided on stages.